Tag Archive: bodhisattva


Goddess Vasudhara

“Vasudhara” by Sundar Sinkhwal

“Vasudhara’s themes are religious devotion, charity, thankfulness and abundance. Her symbols are cows and golden items. In India, this golden-breasted earth Goddess provides us with enough abundance to be able to give back freely of what we receive. Vasushara’s golden color alludes to some solar attributes, including manifesting financial prosperity for those who call upon Her. In Her wealth-giving aspect, Vasudhara sometimes appears as a cow.

Around this date, many churches in the United States and Canada begin their annual fund-raising campaign by asking parishioners to give back a little of what the divine has given them.  While many New Age practitioners don’t belong to a church, this idea still holds merit and would please Vasudhara greatly. Donate a little money to a pagan defense fund, for example.  Put on something gold to draw the Goddess’s prosperity back to you, then buy some good magic books for your library. The proceeds indirectly ‘give back’ to the teachers whom you admire through royalties!

If your schedule allows, stop in at your favorite New Age store and volunteer an hour of your time to give back to the community. Write thank-you letters to people who have somehow touched your life deeply. Should any of these people live nearby, help them with chores or bring them a special dish for dinner.  These acts of kindness are a type of stewardship that reflects Vasushara’s spirit by blessing others.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

A Newari Representation of Vasudhara

From Wikipedia: “Vasudhārā whose name means ‘stream of gems’ in Sanskrit, is the Buddhist bodhisattva of wealth, prosperity, and abundance. She is popular in many Buddhist countries and is a subject in Buddhist legends and art. Originally an Indian bodhisattva, Her popularity has spread to southern Buddhist countries. Her popularity, however, peaks in Nepal where She has a strong following among the Buddhist Newars of the Kathmandu Valley and is thus a central figure in Newar Buddhism.  She is named Shiskar Apa in Lahul and Spiti.

The origin of Vasudhārā in Buddhism appears in the Buddhist text The Vasudhara Dharani.  According to a legend in the text known as ‘The Inquiry of the Layman Sucandra,’ an impoverished layman named Sucandra approaches the Buddha Shakyamuni requesting a way to obtain large amounts gold, grain, silver, and gems in order to feed his large family and engage in acts of charity with the surplus fortune. Shakyamuni, aware of a mantra about the bodhisattva Vasudhara that would suit his purposes, bestows Sucandra with an incantation and religious ritual that when followed would result in good fortune and prosperity brought on by Vasudhara Herself. Upon commencing the rituals and teaching them to others, Sucandra begins to prosper. Noticing his success, the monk Ananda asked Shakyamuni how he had obtained this fortune so quickly. Shakyamuni instructs Ananda to also practice the Vasudhara Dharani and ‘impart it to others ‘for the good of many’.’

Although ‘The Inquiry of the Layman Sucandra’ seems to contradict the Buddha’s renunciation of material possessions and earthly pleasures, Shakyamuni does not instruct the monk to recite the mantra for material benefit but instead he stresses that the mantra is for ‘the good of many’ and for ‘the happiness of many’.  Thus the mantra is meant more as means of alleviating suffering rather than obtaining wealth through Vasudhara, who not only grants physical wealth and abundance but also spiritual wealth and abundance. Click here to continue reading about Her legends from Taranatha.

Like the legend of the ‘Inquiry of the Layman Sucandra’ these legends are significant because they encourage both the lay and monastic worship of Vasudhara.  In addition, they stress the importance of charity, teaching worshippers to share in their good fortune rather than amassing it for themselves.

Vasudhara [Tib. Norgyun(ma)]

In Buddhist art, Vasudhara has a consistent iconography. She can easily be identified as a bodhisattva by the elaborate headdress and the extensive amount of jewelry she wears.  Her skin has a golden hue in bronze and painted images. This color is associated with precious metals and symbolizes opulence, fertility, and generosity in Buddhist iconography. Vasudhara is typically seated on a lotus flower base in the lalitasana, or royal pose, with one foot tucked in towards her and the other hanging of the flower base but resting on a small treasure.  She can, however, also be represented in a standing position.  When standing, Vasudhara has a full vase representing abundance underneath each foot.

Despite this consistency in Her representations, the number of Her arms may differ from image to image. In visual representations, Vasudhara can have as few as two arms and as many as six. The two-armed representations are more common in Tibetan art and Indian art, while six-armed representations are almost exclusive to Nepalese art.  Although the six-armed image originates in India, they are rare and only few examples have been found.

In Her hands, Vasudhara holds a variety of objects attributed to Her. Most representations show Her holding a sheaf of corn in Her left hand, symbolizing an abundant harvest.  She may also be holding a gem or small treasure, a symbol of wealth. Representations with more arms, such as the six-armed Nepali representation, also depict Her holding a full vase and the Book of Wisdom. With Her free hands, Vasudhara performs mudras. A commonly seen mudra in paintings and figurines featuring Vasudhara is the varada mudra, also known as the charity mudra, which symbolizes the ‘pouring forth of divine blessings.’ Vasudhara is the subject of numerous bronzes and paintings. She is predominantly the central figure of bronze sculptures or painted mandalas. She may also, however, appear alongside Her consort, Vaiśravaṇa (Jambhala) the Buddhist God of Riches. Despite his status, She surpasses him in popularity and is more commonly the central figure of Her own mandalas.

Vasudhara is particularly popular in Nepali Buddhism among the Buddhist Newars of the Kathmandu Valley. In this region she is a common household deity. This is known from the countless number of bronzes and paintings found representing Her. These images are small in size, typically 18 cm or smaller.  Because of their small size it is known that these images were primarily for private use, namely household veneration of the Goddess. Additionally, there is a cult dedicated to Her worship followed by the Buddhist Newars.  Followers of this cult believe that Her worship brings wealth and stability. Despite the strong following of this cult by the Buddhist Newars, unfortunately, it is now in decline.

As the Bodhisattva of abundance and prosperity, Her popularity in this region is due to the predominance of agriculture and trade essential to the economy of the Kathmandu Valley.  The Newars believe that Her veneration will generally result in good fortune.

One of the earliest Nepalese representations of Vasudhara is a pauhba (textile art depicting Hindu and Buddhist images on course cotton), dating back to 1015 C.E.  This pauhba is known as the Mandala of Vasudhara. The Goddess is the central image of this mandala, which depicts scenes of dedication, ritual initiation, festive music, and dance associated with Her worship. Its purpose is didactic (to teach). The mandala teaches the importance of worshipping Vasudhara primarily through the narrative of a non-believer whom She converted to belief.

In addition to Her popularity in Nepal, Vasudhara is also an important ‘wealth deity’ in Tibetan Buddhism.  Although popular in Tibet, Vasudhara does not assume as important of a role as She does in Nepalese Buddhism. In Tibet, the worship of Vasudhara is limited to mostly lay people as opposed to worship by both lay and monastic life. This is because Tibetan monastic life regards Vasudhara as a ‘benefactor of the laity’ and instead primarily engages in the worship of the Goddess Tara for all their needs.  This, however, does not mean that monastic life disregards Her completely. They do perform rites and rituals to the Goddess habitually but it is usually at the request of a patron.

The iconography of Vasudhara varies slightly in this region. In Tibetan art She appears more commonly with two arms. The six-armed representations, however, also exist and it is believed they filtered into Tibet through Nepal because of the late appearance of these images in manuscripts and art.  Unlike Nepalese art, Vasudhara rarely appears alone in Tibetan art. Instead She is paired with Jambhala or appears alongside other deities.  Despite these slight differences, most of Her iconography remains unchanged and Vasudhara can be easily recognized by Her attributes in most Buddhist art.

Vasudhara is often compared to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. As Goddesses of wealth, both deities have a similar iconography and are worshipped for their role in an abundant harvest.  Both assume a golden hue in artistic representations, perform the same mudra, and hold similar objects. For example, Vasudhara and Lakshmi are often depicted holding gems or having pots of treasure under their feet. It is believed that the convention of depicting Vasudhara standing on vases originated from earlier representations of Lakshmi.  Furthermore, both Goddesses are often depicted paired with their respective consorts, Lakshmi alongside Vishnu and Vasudhara alongside Jambhala.” [1]

“Invite Vasudhara into your home, offer Her flowers and water, and recite Her mantra daily to invite wealth and abundance into your life. Her mantra is: OM SHRI VASUDHARA RATNA NIDHANA KASHETRI SOHA.” [2]

Sources:

Fsmegamall.com, “Bejeweled Vasudhara – Goddess of Wealth and Abundance“.

Wikipedia, “Vasudhara“.

 

Suggested Links:

Huntington, John C. & Dina Bangdel. The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art, “125| Vasundhara“.

Isley, A. Krishna. Krishna76.deviantart.com, “Vasundhara in Vajrayana Buddhi“. (An excellent academic essay!)

News.richmond.edu, “Religion professor researches Buddhist goddesses of Tibet“.

Shaw, Miranda Eberle. Buddhist Goddesses of India.

Smithsonian Institution. Asia.si.edu, “Devi: The Great Goddess“.

Goddess Srinmo

“Srinmo’s themes karma, Universal Law, excellence, sports and cycles. Her symbols are the wheel and boomerang. In Tibet, this Goddess holds the Great Round, a cosmic wheel upon which the movement of human life is recorded with each thought, word, and deed. Srinmo’s demonic visage represents the human fear of death and reminds that one should strive for good in this life for the beauty it brings now and n our next incarnation.

In Virginia, the Boomerang Festival is a festival of skill centering on the ancient boomerangs believed to have been used originally by the Egyptians.

Metaphysically speaking, the boomerang’s movement represents the threefold law and Srinmo’s karmic balance (i.e., everything you send out returns to you thrice).
To give yourself a greater understanding of this principle, or to recognize the cycles in your life that may need changing, carry any round object today, such as a coin. Put it in your pocket, saying

‘What goes around comes around.’

Pay particular attention to your routine and the way you interact with people all day, and see what Srinmo reveals to you.

For aiding the quest for enlightenment, and generally improving karma through light-filled living, try this little incantation in the car each time you make a right-hand turn today:

‘As I turn to the right,
I move closer to the Light!'”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Today’s research comes from a fantastic piece written by  Victor & Victoria Trimondi; and the following excerpt is the story of the bondage of the earth Goddess Srinmo and the history of the origin of Tibet.  “According to Tibetan tradition, the whole Tibetan territory can be represented as a vast wild female demon lying on her back facing East and stretching her limbs all over the country. The accounts of this conception are found in several Tibetan texts that originated between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, including the famous terma-revealed chronicle Maṇi Kabum (ma ni bka’ ‘bum, 12th century) and above cited chronicle The Clear Mirror (rgyal rabs gsal ba’i me long) written by the great scholar Södnam Gyaltsen (bsod nams rgyal mtshan, 1312-1375).” [1]

“The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is considered the progenitor of the Tibetans, he thus determines events from the very beginning. In the period before there were humans on earth, the Buddha being was embodied in a monkey and passed the time in deep meditation on the ‘Roof of the World‘. There, as if from nowhere, a rock demoness by the name of Srinmo appeared. The hideous figure was a descendent of the Srin clan, a bloodthirsty community of nature Goddesses. ‘Spurred on by horniness’ — as one text puts it — She too assumed the form of a (female) monkey and tried over seven days to seduce Avalokiteshvara. But the divine Bodhisattva monkey withstood all temptations and remained untouched and chaste. As he continued to refuse on the eighth day, Srinmo threatened him with the following words: ‘King of the monkeys, listen to me and what I am thinking. Through the power of love, I very much love you. Through this power of love I woo you, and confess: If you will not be my spouse, I shall become the rock demon’s companion. If countless young rock demons then arise, every morning they will take thousands upon thousands of lives. The region of the Land of Snows itself will take on the nature of the rock demons. All other forms of life will then be consumed by the rock demons. If I myself then die as a consequence of my deed, these living beings will be plunged into hell. Think of me then, and have pity’ (Hermanns, 1956, p. 32). With this she hit the bullseye. ‘Sexual intercourse out of compassion and for the benefit of all suffering beings’ was — as we already know — a widespread ‘ethical’ practice in Mahayana Buddhism. Despite this precept, the monkey first turned to his emanation father, Amitabha, and asked him for advice. The ‘god of light from the West’ answered him with wise foresight: ‘Take the rock demoness as your consort. Your children and grandchildren will multiply. When they have finally become humans, they will be a support to the teaching’ (Hermanns, 1956, p. 32).

Nevertheless, this Buddhist evolutionary account, reminiscent of Charles Darwin, did not just arise from the compassionate gesture of a divine monkey; rather, it also contains a widely spread, elitist value judgement by the clergy, which lets the Tibetans and their country be depicted as uncivilized, underdeveloped and animal-like, at least as far as the negative influence of their primordial mother is concerned. ‘From their father they are hardworking, kind, and attracted to religious activity; from their mother they are quick-tempered, passionate, prone to jealousy and fond of play and meat’, an old text says of the inhabitants of the Land of Snows (Samuel, 1993, p. 222).

Two forces thus stand opposed to one another, right from the Tibetan genesis: the disciplined, restrained, culturally creative, spiritual world of the monks in the form of Avalokiteshvaraand the wild, destructive energy of the feminine in the figure of Srinmo.

In a further myth, non-Buddhist Tibet itself appears as the embodiment of Srinmo (Janet Gyatso, 1989, p. 44). The local demoness is said to have resisted the introduction of the true teaching by the Buddhist missionaries from India with all means at Her disposal, with weaponry and with magic, until She was ultimately defeated by the great king of law, Songtsen Gampo (617-650), an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara (and thus of the current Dalai Lama). ‘The lake in the Milk plane,’ writes the Tibet researcher Rolf A. Stein, ‘where the first Buddhist king built his temple (the Jokhang), represented the heart of the demoness, who lay upon Her back. The demoness is Tibet itself, which must first be tamed before She can be inhabited and civilized. Her body still covers the full extent of Tibet in the period of its greatest military expansion (eighth to ninth century C.E.). Her spread-eagled limbs reached to the limits of Tibetan settlement … In order to keep the limbs of the defeated demoness under control, twelve nails of immobility were hammered into Her’ (Stein, 1993, p.34). A Buddhist temple was raised at the location of each of these twelve nailings.

Mysterious stories circulate among the Tibetans which tell of a lake of blood under the Jokhang, which is supposed to consist of Srinmo’s heart blood. Anyone who lays his ear to the ground in the cathedral, the sacred center of the Land of Snows, can still — many claim — hear Her faint heartbeat. A comparison of this unfortunate female fate with the subjugation of the Greek dragon, Pythonat Delphi immediately suggests itself. Apollothe god of light (Avalokiteshvara), let the earth-monster, Python (Srinmo), live once he had defeated it so that it would prophesy for him, and built over the mistreated body at Delphi the most famous oracle temple in Greece.

The earth demoness is nailed down with phurbas. These are ritual daggers with a three-sided blade and a vajra handle. We know these already from the Kalachakra ritual, where they are likewise employed to fixate the earth spirits and the earth mother. The authors who have examined the symbolic significance of the magic weapon are unanimous in their assessment of the aggressive phallic symbolism of the phurba.

In their view, Srinmo represents an archetypal variant of the Mother Earth figure known from all cultures, whom the Greeks called Gaia (Gaea). As nature and as woman She stands in stark contrast to the purely spiritual world of Tantric Buddhism. The forces of wilderness, which rebel against androcentric civilization, are bundled within Her. She forms the feminine shadow world in opposition to the masculine paradise of light of the shining Amitabha and his radiant emanation son, AvalokiteshvaraSrinmo symbolizes the (historical) prima materia, the matrix, the primordial earthly substance which is needed in order to construct a tantric monastic empire, then She provides the gynergy, the feminine élan vitale, with which the Land of Snows pulsates. As the vanquisher of the earth Goddess, Avalokiteshvara triumphs in the form of King Songtsen Gampo, that is, the same Bodhisattva who, as a monkey, earlier engendered with Srinmo the Tibetans in myth, and who shall later exercise absolute dominion from the ‘Roof of the World’ as Dalai Lama.

Tibet’s sacred center, the Jokhang (the cathedral of Lhasa), the royal chronicles inform us, thus stands over the pierced heart of a woman, the earth mother Srinmo. This act of nailing down is repeated at the construction of every Lamaist shrine, whether temple or monastery and regardless of where the establishment takes place — in Tibet, India, or the West. Then before the first foundation stone for the new building is laid, the tantric priests occupy the chosen location and execute the ritual piercing of the earth mother with their phurbas. Tibet’s holy geography is thus erected upon the maltreated bodies of mythic women, just as the tantric shrines of India (the shakta pithas) are found on the places where the dismembered body of the Goddess Sati fell to earth.

Srinmo with different Tibetan temples upon her body

In contrast to Her Babylonian sister, Tiamat, who was cut to pieces by Her great-grandchild, Marduk, so that outer space was formed by Her limbs, Srinmo remains alive following Her subjugation and nailing down. According to the tantric scheme, Her gynergy flows as a constant source of life for the Buddhocratic system. She thus vegetates — half dead, half alive — over centuries in the service of the patriarchal clergy. An interpretation of this process according to the criteria of the gaia thesis often discussed in recent years would certainly be most revealing. (We return to this point in our analysis of the ecological program of the Tibetans in exile.) According to this thesis, the mistreated ‘Mother Earth’ (Gaia is the popular name for the Greek earth mother) has been exploited by humanity (and the gods?) for millennia and is bleeding to death. But Srinmo is not just a reservoir of inexhaustible energy. She is also the absolute Other, the foreign, and the great danger which threatens the Buddhocratic state. Srinmo is — as we still have to prove — the mythic ‘inner enemy’ of Tibetan Lamaism, while the external mythic enemy is likewise represented by a woman, the Chinese Goddess Guanyin.

Srinmo survived — even if it was under the most horrible circumstances, yet the Tibetans also have a myth of dismemberment which repeats the Babylonian tragedy of Tiamat. Like many peoples they worship the tortoise as a symbol of Mother Earth. A Tibetan myth tells of how in the mists of time the Bodhisattva Manjushri sacrificed such a creature ‘or the benefit of all beings’. In order to form a solid foundation for the world he fired an arrow off at the tortoise which struck it in the right-hand side. The wounded animal spat fire, its blood poured out, and it passed excrement. It thus multiplied the elements of the new world. Albert Grünwedel presents this myth as evidence for the “tantric female sacrifice” in the Kalachakra ritual: ‘The tortoise which Manjushri shot through with a long arrow … [is] just another form of the world woman whose inner organs are depicted by the dasakaro vasi figure [the Power of Ten]‘ (Grünwedel, 1924, vol. II, p. 92).

The relation of Tibetan Buddhism to the Goddess of the earth or of the country (Tibet) is also one of brutal subjugation, an imprisonment, an enslavement, a murder or a dismemberment. Euphemistically, and in ignorance of the tantric scheme of things it could also be interpreted as a civilizing of the wilderness through culture. Yet however the relation is perceived — no meeting, no exchange, no mutual recognition of the two forces takes place. In the depths of Tibet’s history — as we shall show — a brutal battle of the sexes is played out.” [2]

Well damn…who knew??  I really had no idea how misogynistic Buddhism was until it was brought to my attention back in mid June of this year.  A person had shared several links with me and to be honest, it was very unsettling.  One relevant link that was shared I will share here in this entry is entitled Thai Buddhism and Patriarchy by Ouyporn Khuankaew.

“Although many people believe Buddhism is an ‘egalitarian’ religion, the fact will remain that sexism/gender bias has been a very integral part of the faith for many centuries. Overall, there is less virulent anti-woman bigotry within Buddhism than many other religions, especially the Abrahamic cultus of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but misogyny and chauvinism have been apparent enough in the Eastern faiths as well, including the Buddhist.” [3]

Man, way to pop my happy little Zen bubble, huh?

 

 

 

Sources: 

Murdock, D.M. Examiner.com, “Women in Buddhism“.

Sehnalova, Anna. 4shared.com, “The Myth of the ‘Supine Demoness’“.

Trimondi, Victor & Victoria. Trimondi.de, “2. The Dalai Lama (Avalokiteshvara) and the Demoness (Srinmo)“.

Suggested Links:

Cabezón, José Ignacio. Thlib.org, “Pabongkha Hermitage“.

O’Neill, Brendan. Reason.com, “The Truth About Tibetan Buddhism“.

Trimondi, Victor & Victoria. Trimondi.de, “Part I – 1. Buddhism and misogyny – an historical overview“.  (Here is a link to the Contents page)

Visitourchina.com, “History of Jokhang Temple“.

Wikipedia, “Women in Buddhism“.

Goddess Drol-Ma

Painting in the Dunhuang Series by Zeng Hao

“Drol-ma’s themes are kindness, overcoming, charity and change. Her symbols are any acts of kindness.  This Nepalese Goddess’s name means ‘deliverer’. So it is that Drol-ma visits us with compassion and transformative power, turning sadness into joy, poverty into wealth and despair into hope.

On this day in 1910, the inspiring Mother Teresa was born. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her charitable works. To remember her and honor the spirit of Drol-ma that her life reflected so powerfully, do something nice for people today. Pick up a friend who normally has to take the bus, shop for someone who can’t get out, baby-sit for a flustered mother, give a few bucks to a food bank, donate blood to the Red Cross, volunteer your time at a youth center. Drol-ma lives in all these selfless acts.

To help recognize an opportunity for kindness or charity, pray to Drol-ma before leaving the house today, using words like these:

‘Great Deliverer, She whose heart knows no limits,
renew in me the spirit of benevolence that seeks
not after it’s own reward but does good for good’s
sake. The world is a much lovelier place when
Your kindness flows through our hearts, reaching
out to those in need. Take my hand and guide my
way. Let it begin today. Amen.’

Go out and keep your eyes and ears open!”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Green Tara” by Zeng Hao

Today’s Goddess is actually another name of the great Goddess Tara.  “In Tibetan, [Tara] is called Dolma or Do’ma, though often we see Drolma because it follows the Tibetan spelling (a little more; if we transliterate, it is actually sgrolma.).” [1]  “Tara (Tib. Dolma) is worshipped for Her assistance in aiding the believer to overcome obstacles on the path to enlightenment.” [2]

See my March 3rd entry on the Goddess Tara for more information.

 

 

 

Sources:

Dharmasculpture.com, “Tara, the Mother of All Buddhas“.

Khandro.net, “Tara“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Wikipedia, “Tara (Buddhism)“.

“Kwanseieun’s themes are luck, blessings, harvest, cleansing and kindness. Her symbols are fish, willow and gold items.  This Korean Goddess of goodness, courage and fortune listens carefully to our needs, intending to meet each with compassion. Art sometimes depicts Her riding a fish, giving Her associations with fertility. In other depictions She bears a willow branch and gold necklaces (lunar and solar symbols, respectively), indicating the diverse powers She can use in answering prayers.

In a festival similar to that held in Japan this month, Korean farmers go about the task of ensuring an abundant rice crop today. To draw this abundance and Kwanseieun’s blessings into your life, follow Korean custom and wash your hair today. This cleans away ill fortune. Change the type of rinse you use to mirror your goals. For example, rinse in Kwanseieun’s fertile aspect by using pine-scented water, or increase Her fortunate energies for the day by using allspice-nutmeg-scented water.

Making these rinses is very easy. Just steep the desired aromatic in warm water, as you would a tea, then refrigerate and use as desired.

Wear gold or eat fish today to commemorate Kwanseieun and activate her positive attributes in your personality. For example, wear a gold necklace to communicate with more kindness, or wear a gold ring to remind you to extend a helping hand to those in need.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

 

Kuan Yin scroll by Korean artist in Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

As I thought,  Kwanseieun is the Korean name of Kwan-Yin.  I found variants of Her name to include Kwanse’um, Kwan Seum Bosal, Kwan-se-um, Gwan-eum, Gwanse-eum, and Gwaneum.  I could find no information specifically exclusive to the Goddess Kwanseieun.  You can click here to be brought to my Kwan-Yin entry to learn more about this Goddess of Mercy or to refresh your memory :)

 

 

 

Sources:

inanna.virtualave.net, “Far East Realm“.

Wikipedia, “Guanyin“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Kwan Seum Bosal.

Religiousfacts.com, “Kuan Yin“.

Yü, Chün-fang. Dharma World, “Kuan-yin Devotion in China“.

“sri devi a.k.a dewi sri” by ~hanyasatu

“Wakasaname-no-Kami’s themes are providence, harvest, growth, patience and manifestation. Her symbols are rice and fire.  This Goddess’s name describes Her function in Japan – The Young Rice Planting Maiden. It is Wakasaname’s duty to oversee the rice transplanting at this time of year, as She was born of a union between the food Goddess and grain god. From a more spiritual perspective, Wakasaname-no-Kami offers us the providence and fulfillment that comes from a job patiently well attended.

Early in June, Japanese farmers transplant their rice seedlings into the paddies, asking for the blessings of the Goddess as they go. Prayers are made as ritual fires burn to get Wakasaname’s attention, and they probably act as an invocation to the sun. In you home this might mean going outside (if the weather permits) and offering to the Goddess so She can help you fulfill your work-related goals. Makes sure you keep your purpose in mind while the rice burns and speak your wishes into the smoke so it carries them before Wakasaname’s watchful eyes.

To inspire Wakasaname’s patience in your life, make a bowl of rice. Breathe deeply, then try to pick up one grain with chopsticks. This is an old meditative method from the East, and believe me, it teaches much more about the benefits of persistence and practice!”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Inari” by Susan Seddon Boulet

For today’s entry, the only information I could find on today’s Goddess, Wakasaname-no-Kami, was the following, “The god of Rice called Inari is usually depicted as a bearded old man, but he can transform himself into Wakasaname-no-Kami [Young Rice-Planting Maiden].  This is the spirit whose alter ego, ally or vehicle is the fox.  And a fox is believed to be able to transform itself into the rice spirit, too. ” [1]  (Hmm, interesting considering our encounter a few evenings ago with Fox…)

“Inari” by Matthew Meyer

Further research proved Inari to be a very complex deity.  “Inari has been depicted both as male and as female. The most popular representations of Inari, according to scholar Karen Ann Smyers, are a young female food Goddess, an old man carrying rice, and an androgynous bodhisattva…Inari is sometimes identified with other mythological figures. Some scholars suggest that Inari is the figure known in classical Japanese mythology as Ukanomitama or the Kojiki‘s Ōgetsu-Hime; others suggest Inari is the same figure as Toyouke. Some take Inari to be identical to any grain kami.

Inari’s female aspect is often identified or conflated with Dakiniten, a Buddhist deity who is a Japanese transformation of the Indian dakini or with Benzaiten of the Seven Lucky Gods.

  

Inari is often venerated as a collective of three deities (Inari sanza); since the Kamakura period, this number has sometimes increased to five kami (Inari goza). However, the identification of these kami has varied over time. According to records of Fushimi Inari, the oldest and perhaps most prominent Inari shrine, these kami have included IzanagiIzanamiNinigi, and Wakumusubi, in addition to the food deities previously mentioned. The five kami today identified with Inari at Fushimi Inari are Ukanomitama, Sarutahiko, Omiyanome, Tanaka, and Shi. However, at Takekoma Inari, the second-oldest Inari shrine in Japan, the three enshrined deities are Ukanomitama, Ukemochi, and Wakumusubi.  According to the Nijūni shaki, the three kami are Ōmiyame no mikoto (water,) Ukanomitama no mikoto (grain,) and Sarutahiko no mikami (land.)” [2]

As I then turned my focus onto Inari, I came across this tale and found a rather interesting comparison to Corn Mother which I’ll explain later.  “Uke Mochi, the Japanese Goddess of food, was married to Inari, the god of rice.  One day the moon god Tsuki-yomi, brother of the sun Goddess Amaterasu, dropped in for a visit. In an attempt to be hospitable, Uke Mochi threw up vast quantities of fish, seaweed, game and boiled rice.  Tsuki-yomi was so disgusted by the manner in which he had been served that he killed Her.  Herds of cattle and horses stampeded out of Uke Mochi’s head.  Rice, millet, and red beans spilled out of Her eyes, ears and nose.  Wheat sprouted from Her genitals, soy beans grew from Her rectum, and even a mulberry tree crawling with silkworms sprang from Her body.” [3]

“Uke Mochi” by Kabuki Katze

I find it interesting, and obvious now that I think about it, that two such important staples (corn and rice) are associated with Goddesses; Goddesses with different names and epithets across the regions They reign across (as there are many names for the Corn Mother among the various tribes of North America and for rice Goddesses across Asia – see Phosop).  Now, read this synopsis of the two main version about Corn Mother.  “The story of the Corn Mother is related in two main versions with many variations.

“Corn Maiden” by Marti Fenton (White Deer Song)

In the first version (the ‘immolation version’), the Corn Mother is depicted as an old woman who succors a hungry tribe, frequently adopting an orphan as a foster child. She secretly produces grains of corn by rubbing Her body. When Her secret is discovered, the people, disgusted by her means of producing the food, accuse Her of witchcraft. Before being killed—by some accounts with Her consent—She gives careful instructions on how to treat Her corpse. Corn sprouts from the places over which Her body is dragged or, by other accounts, from Her corpse or burial site.

In the second version (the ‘flight version’), She is depicted as a young, beautiful woman who marries a man whose tribe is suffering from hunger. She secretly produces corn, also, in this version, by means that are considered to be disgusting; She is discovered and insulted by Her in-laws. Fleeing the tribe, She returns to Her divine home; Her husband follows Her, and She gives him seed corn and detailed instructions for its cultivation.” [4]

“The Slaying of Mother Earth” by Matthew Bandel

Do you see the common theme in both the Japanese and Native American stories?  In all three stories, the Goddess produces food in ways that are considered “disgusting”.  In all three stories, She is sent away (either killed or flees).  In both the Japanese and Native American “immolation version”, food – vital staples for survival, sprout from Her body.  Really think about that.  Really think about the “disgusting” and “dirty” things that the Goddess does and is associated with that are necessary for life to flourish.  She takes abuse, is ridiculed and exploited for Her “dirtiness”; that which She freely sacrifices and gives out of love in order for Her children to live.  Thinking about this can get pretty deep…

 

 

 

Sources:

Encyclopedia Britannica, “Corn Mother“.

Hathaway, Nancy. The Friendly Guide to Mythology: A Mortal’s Companion to the Fantastical Realm of Gods and Goddesses Monsters Heroes, “Uke Mochi“.

Khandro.net, “Rice“.

Wikipedia, “Inari Ōkami“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

OnMark Productions, “INARI / Oinari / Oinari-sama Shinto God/Goddess of Rice & Food“.

Kazuo, MATSUMURA.  “Alone Among Women: A Comparitive Mythic Analysis of the Development of Amaterasu Theology“.

Kuchinsky, Charolette. Yahoo! Voices, “The Myth of the Japanese Goddess, Ukemochi“.

Roberts, Jeremy. “Japanese Mythology A – Z“. (This is a PDF)

Yoose, Becky. University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, “INARI = Shinto Rice Kami“.

Goddess Kwan Yin

Painting by Zeng Hao

“Kwan Yin’s themes are children, kindness, magic, health and fertility.  Her symbols are a lotus, black tea, rice and rainbows.  Kwan Yin is the most beloved of all Eastern Goddess figures, giving freely Her unending sympathy, fertility, health and magical insight to all who ask. It is Her sacred duty to relieve suffering and encourage enlightenment among humans. In Eastern mythology, a rainbow bore Kwan Yin to heaven in human form. Her name means ‘regarder of sounds’, meaning She hears the cries and prayers of the world.

If you hope to have children or wish to invoke Kwan Yin’s blessing and protection on the young ones in your life, you can follow Eastern custom and leave an offering for Kwan Yin of sweet cakes, lotus incense, fresh fruit and/or flowers. If you can’t find lotus incense, look for lotus-shaped soaps at novelty or import shops.

For literal or figurative fertility, try making this Kwan Yin talisman: During a waxing-to-full moon, take a pinch of black tea and a pinch of rice and put them in a yellow cloth, saying:

 ‘As a little tea makes a full cup
so may my life be full
As the rice expands in warm water
so may my heart expand with love and warmth
The fertility of Kwan Yin, wrapped neatly within.’

Tie this up and keep it in a spot that corresponds to the type of fertility you want (such as the bedroom for physical fertility).”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Padmapani Avalokiteshvara

“The Goddess Kwan Yin is known as the Goddess of Mercy and Her specialty is compassion, for She knew all about suffering.  In Her first life in India She was born as a male named Avalokitesvara, who sought to help poor lost souls be reborn to a better life on their journey to enlightenment. But he was overwhelmed and anguished when more lost souls kept coming in what seemed an endless cycle. In his despair he shattered into a thousand pieces.

From his remains they shaped him as a woman, a Goddess — more suitable for bringing compassion and mercy into the world, they thought.

Painting in Dunhuang Series by Zeng Hao

They gave Her a thousand arms and eyes in the palms of each of Her hands so that  She would always see the people’s distress and be able to reach out to encircle them.

Then they sent Her back to earth to do Her work. So successful was She at comforting the people, that word of Her began to spread to other lands and other religions. ‘We need Her here,’ the people cried.

And so She went, reincarnating Herself wherever She was needed. Known by many names and stories in many places, She was revered as a Buddhist deity and then a Taoist one.” [1]

In Chinese tradition, “Kwan Yin (‘She Who Hears the Prayers of the World’) was originally the mother Goddess of China, who proved so popular She was adopted into the Buddhist pantheon as a bodhisattva (much like the Goddess Bride was made a saint). A bodhisattva is a person who has attained enlightenment but chooses to forgo Nirvana and remain in the world to help others attain enlightenment.” [2]

Before She became a bodhisattva, Kwan Yin was a princess named Miao Shan. “At the time of Miao shan’s conception the queen, Pao-ying, dreamed that she swallowed the moon. When the time came for the child to be born, the whole earth quaked, and wonderful fragrance and heavenly flowers were spread near and far. The people of that country were astounded. At birth She was clean and fresh without being washed. Her holy marks were noble and majestic, Her body was covered over with many-colored clouds. The people said that these were signs of the incarnation of a holy person. Although the parents thought this extraordinary, their hearts were corrupt, and so they detested Her.” [3]  As Miao Shan, She was rejected at birth and abused by a father who had wanted a son.  He sought to marry Her off, but She refused, only wanting to become a nun.  She endured many trials, but eventually Her father relented and She was allowed to pursue her dream of religious life and dedicated Her life to Buddhism.

But Her suffering did not end there. Her vengeful father even hired a man to kill Her, but She forgave him. In the end, Her great love and mercy saved his life and reconciled Her parent’s to Her divinity. [4] [5]

“As the still-popular mother Goddess of China, Kwan Yin is known as a great healer who can cure all ills. She is also a Goddess of fertility, and is often shown holding a child. In this aspect She is known as Sung-tzu niang-niang, “The Lady Who Brings Children”. She is shown holding a crystal vase, pouring out the waters of creation. Simply calling Her name in time of crisis is believed to grant deliverance.” [6]

"Kwan Yin" by Pamela Matthews

“Guanyin is also revered by Chinese Taoists (sometimes called Daoists) as an Immortal. However, in Taoist mythology, Guanyin has other origination stories which are not directly related to Avalokiteśvara.” [7]

“She is known as the Goddess Tara in the Himalayas and Mazu in Her incarnation as the Goddess of the Southern Seas, but She is best known by Her Chinese name, Kwan Yin (also spelled Kuan Yin), the Goddess of Compassion.

Depicted in statues and paintings, the Goddess Kwan Yin often appears as a calm, gentle woman of middle-age who radiates serenity. She is sometimes referred to as an Asian madonna.”  [8]

Guanyin (Kannon) & Child
Painting at Tzu-chi Foundation Hospital, Hualien, Taiwan.

“Some syncretic Buddhist and Christian observers have commented on the similarity between Guanyin and Mary of Christianity, the mother of Jesus Christ. This can be attributed to the representation of Guanyin holding a child in Chinese art and sculpture; it is believed that Guanyin is the patron saint of mothers and grants parents filial children. When the Tzu-Chi Foundation, a Taiwanese Buddhist organization, noticed the similarity between this form of Guanyin and the Virgin Mary, the organization commissioned a portrait of Guanyin and a baby that resembles the typical Roman Catholic Madonna and Child painting.

Some Chinese of the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Philippines, in an act of syncretism, have identified Guanyin with the Virgin Mary.

During the Edo Period in Japan, when Christianity was banned and punishable by death, some underground Christian groups venerated the Virgin Mary disguised as a statue of Kannon; such statues are known as Maria Kannon. Many had a cross hidden in an inconspicuous location.” [9]

 

 

Kuan Yin has countless stories and countless forms. You can view a few by clicking here to visit Goddessgift.com.

 

"Kuan Yin #2" by Penny Slinger

ASSOCIATIONS:

  • the color white
  • white flowing robes
  • white lotus blossom
  • avase of dew/nectar
  • fish (carp) & oysters
  • rice-cakes
  • oranges
  • garlic
  • six arms or a thousand
  • eight heads, one sitting atop the next
  • eyes on the palms of the hands
  • peacocks
  • vase of dew
  • willow branches
  • jade and pearls
  • the number 33
  • a boat made of bark
  • blossoming flowers
  • the Hou (a mythological creature resembling the Buddhist lion)
  • a rosary in one hand or a book
  • rose quartz, pink tourmaline, emerald (pink or green stones)

NAMES OF THE GODDESS

  • Kuan Yin (Kwan Yin. Guan Yin, Guan Shih Yin, Quan Yin, Guanyin, Kuanin)
  • Avalokitesvara
  • Mazu, A-ma, Matsu
  • Goddess of the Southern Sea
  • Kwannon (Japan)
  • the Asian Santa Maria
  • One Who Hears the Cries of the World
  • Sung-Tzu-Niang-Niang
    (Lady Who Brings Children)
  • The Maternal Goddess
  • The Observer of All Sounds
  • Bodhisattava of Compassion
  • The Thousand-hand Kuanyin    [10]

 

Om Mani Padme Hum is the six syllabled mantra particularly associated with the four-armed Shadakshari form of Avalokiteshvara (Tibetan Jainraisig, Chinese Guanyin), the bodhisattva of compassion. Mani means “the jewel” and Padma means “the lotus”.  The following Om Mani Padme Hum mantra is sung by OM Carol with Tibetan singing bowls.

I had to include the following video.  If you’ve not seen this before, be prepared to be amazed.  The performance is called “Thousand-handed Goddess of Mercy” performed by China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe.  They are all deaf and mute.  The amazing leading dancer is Tai Lihua , who is a dance teacher at a deaf-mute school in Hubei, China.  Through this amazing dance, these disabled performers demonstrated their passion, love and divine grace.

 

 

Sources:

Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, “Chinese Cultural Studies: The Legend of Miao-shan“.

Goddessgift.com, “The Goddess Kwan Yin“.

Goddessgift.com, “Symbols & Names of the Goddesses Who Embody Kuan Yin“.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Kwan Yin“.

Wikipedia, “Guanyin“.

 

Suggested Links:

Axinia. 1000 Petals by Axinia, “She Has Been Worshipped By More Devotees Than Any Other Goddess In History“.

Goddessgift.com, “Avalokitesvara and the Origins of the Goddess Kuan Yin“.

Lotus Moonwise. The Order of the White Moon, “Kwan Yin: Goddess of Compassion“.

My Kwan Yin, “About Kwan Yin“.

OnmarkProductions.com, “Virgin Mary & Kannon, Two Merciful Mothers“.

Revel, Anita. Reconnect With Your Inner Goddess, “Kwan Yin“.

Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism: Thai Exotic Treasures – Gifts and Information, “Kuan Yin, Kwan Yin, Avalokiteshvara, Chenrezig“.


"Dog Family with Kishimojin" by Ozuma Kaname. The dog has long been taken as a symbol of easy childbirth, and here the litter of puppies (six in all) sit with their mother at the foot of Kishimojin.

“Kishi-Mujin’s themes are protection from evil, meditation, balance and banishing.  Her symbols are water and pine.  Kishi-mujin is a mother Goddess figure in Japan who wraps us in arms of warmth and safety, as welcoming as the spring sun. She is a compassionate lady whose goal is to bring life into balance by replacing sadness with joy; fear with comfort and darkness with light.

Omizutori is the annual, sacred Water-Drawing festival he final rite in observance of the two week-long Shuni-e ceremony. This ceremony is to cleanse the people of their sins as well as to usher in the spring of the New Year. Once the Omizutori is completed, the cherry blossoms have started blooming and spring has arrived.  Follow the Japanese custom, observe this day as a time of reflection: a time to meditate, recite sacred verses, and present offerings of water for blessing. Additionally, on this day, Buddhist monks shake sparks off a pine branch for people to catch. Each ash acts as a wars against evil influences. A safer alternative for banishing negativity or malintended energies is simply burning pine incense or washing your living space with a pine-scented cleaner.

To invoke Kishi-mujin’s presence in your life, find a small-needled pine twig and dip it in water. Sprinkle this water into your aura saying:

Away all negativity, Darkness flee!
Kishi-mujin’s light shines within me!’

Dry the twig and use it as incense for protection anytime you need it.

Finally, before going to bed tonight, honor Kishi-Mujin by stopping to meditate about your life for a few minutes. Are you keeping your spirituality and everyday duties in balance? Are your priorities in order? If not, think of creative, uplifting ways to restore the symmetry.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Painting of Kishimojin by Insho Domoto

The Japanese Buddhist patron Goddess of little children. Her name means ‘mother goddess of the demons’ and She was originally a monstrous demon from India (called Hariti). She abducted little children and devoured them, until the great Buddha converted Her by teaching Her a hard lesson. Gautama Buddha hid Her youngest son, Aiji. After searching desperately for him She went to ask Buddha for aid. Thus he berated Her saying, “you have 500 children, and you are so sad for just losing one child. How are the other mothers feeling who have lost their only child?” In response Hariti stopped killing humans and became a Bodhisattva, governing safe pregnancies and the parenting of children. She represents the Buddha’s appeal to compassion, and his devotion to the welfare of the weak. Kishimojin is portrayed as a mother suckling Her baby and often holding a pomegranate.  Due to Her post-conversion use of pomegranates to feed Her 500 children, (the symbol of love and feminine fertility), mothers who seek Her blessing will dedicate a pomegranate as an offering.

Hariti as the Bodhisattva receives Her great popularity in Japan where She is called the Kishimojin or Karitei-mo. [1] [2]

Sources: 

Lindemans, Micha F. Encyclopedia Mythica, “Kishimojin

Swenson, Brandi. PopAnime {Time of the Golden Witch}, “Hariti/Kishimojin“.

Suggested Links:

Exotic India Art, “Tara and the Cult of the Female in Buddhism” (scroll about 1/6 of the way down to section “Hariti and Yakshani Cult“.

Onmark Productions.com, Japanese Buddhist Statuary, “Kariteimo

Wikipedia, “Hariti

Goddess Tara

Painting in the Dunhuang Series by Zeng Hao

“Tara’s themes are Universal Unity, peace, cooperation, destiny, energy and spirituality.  Her symbol is a star.  In Hindu mythology, Tara is a star Goddess who encompasses all time and the spark of life. She extends this energy to us, fulfilling our spiritual hunger. In so doing, Tara strengthens our understanding of the Universe and its mysteries and gives us a glimpse of our destiny.

Tara’s name literally means ‘star’. In works of art She is depicted as beautiful as the silver turret points of the night sky, young and playful. From Her celestial home Tara challenges us to live life fully no matter the day or season, looking to the stars and our hearts to guide us.

I cannot help but believe that Tara was standing by whispering in scientists’ ears as they launched Pioneer10 into space on this date in 1972, bearing a message of peace to anyone who might find it. In this spirit of exploration and hope, today is definitely a time to reach for the stars! Try something new or set some bold goals for yourself.

If you live in an area where you can observe the night sky, go out tonight and absorb Tara’s beauty firsthand. As you watch, let the starlight and Tara’s energy trickle into your soul.

Make a wish on the first star that appears, and then find concrete ways to help that wish come true. If you see a falling star, it is Tara coming to join you!”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Goddess Tara is probably the oldest Goddess who is still worshipped extensively in modern times. Tara originated as a Hindu Gddess, a Great Goddess — the Mother Creator, representing the eternal life force that fuels all life.

There are 21 embodiments of Tara, but the best known are the White Tara and the Green Tara.

The peaceful, compassionate White Tara gently protects and brings long life and peace. The more dynamic Goddess, Green Tara is the ‘Mother Earth’, and a fierce Goddess who overcomes obstacles, and saves us from physical and spiritual danger.

In Sanskrit, the name Tara means ‘Star’, but She was also called ‘She Who Brings Forth Life’, The Great Compassionate Mother, and The Embodiment of Wisdom, and the Great Protectress.

Adopted by Buddhism, She become the most widely revered deity in the Tibetan pantheon. In Buddhist tradition, Tara is actually much greater than a Goddess — She is a female Buddha, an enlightened one was has attained the highest wisdom, capability and compassion. . . one who can take human form and who remains in oneness with the every living thing.

In the legends of Tibet where the worship of the Goddess Tara is still practiced in the Buddhist tradition, it is told that the Goddess Tara is the feminine counterpart of the Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva who is reincarnated as the Dalai Lama.

Bodhisattvas are beings who have reached enlightenment and are ‘eligible’ for Budda-hood but have postponed their own Nirvāṇa, choosing instead to be remain in the cycle of birth and rebirth in order to serve humanity and assist every being on Earth in achieving Nirvāṇa themselves.

It is told that Tara first appeared rising from a lotus blossom in the lake that had formed from Avalokitesvara’s tears of compassion, tears that fell when he first beheld the scope of suffering in the world.

“White Tara Thanka” by Penny Slinger

Because of Her essential goodness, She was granted the right to assume Her human form as a man. But Tara elected instead to remain in Her womanly form.

The Goddess Tara vowed:

‘There are many who wish to gain enlightenment
in a man’s form,
And there are few who wish to work
for the welfare of living beings
in a female form.
Therefore may I, in a female body,
work for the welfare of all beings,
until such time as all humanity has found its fullness.’

One of the myths of the Goddess Tara demonstrates Her compassionate and loving nature and tells how She got the name “Tara of the Turned Face”.

An elderly woman who was a sculptor worked in a city where there was a large Buddhist temple called the Mahabodhi (Great Wisdom). She sculpted a statue of the Goddess Tara and built a shrine to house it. Upon completing the project she was filled with regret when she realized that she had not considered the placement of the shrine. ‘Oh no,’ she thought, ‘Tara has Her back to the Mahabodhi and that isn’t right!’

Then she heard the sculpture speak to her, saying ‘If you are unhappy, I will look toward the Mahabodhi.’ As the woman watched in amazement, the door of the shrine and the image of the Goddess Tara both turned to face the Temple.

Such is the love and compassion of the Goddess Tara.

The ancient Goddess Tara in Her many incarnations has many gifts to share with contemporary women. Tara embodies the feminine strengths of great caring and compassion, the ability to endure stressful and even terrifying moments, the acts of creation, and the source of sustenance and protection.

Demonstrating the psychological flexibility that is granted to the female spirit, the Goddess Tara, in some of Her human forms, could be quite fierce and wild.

Refugees fleeing the horrors of the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese armies recounted numerous stories of the Green Tara that protected them during their torture and guided their flight to freedom.

In other of Her forms, such as the White Tara, She embodied inner peace and spiritual acceptance. She symbolizes purity and is thought to be part of every good and virtuous woman.

Tara is an archetype of our own inner wisdom. She guides and protects us as we navigate the depths of our unconscious minds, helping us to transform consciousness, our own personal journeys of freedom.

It is the Goddess Tara who helps us to remain ‘centered’. The myths of the Goddess Tara remind us of our ‘oneness’ with all of creation and the importance of nurturing the spirit within.” [1]

 

“White Tara” by Marianna Rydvald

White Tara (Sveta Tara) is the incarnation of Bhrikuti Devi or Tritsun, princess of Nepal and wife of the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.  She is regarded as companion of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. She is closely related to the Dalai Lama who is also regarded as an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara.  She is generally portrayed as seated, dressed and crowned like a Bodhisattva with an extra eye on the forehead.  Her right hand is in Varada Mudra (Boon Granting Gesture) and sometimes in Abhaya Mudra (Protection Gesture) with a full blown lotus at one or both shoulders.  Her left hand is in Jnana Mudra (Teaching Gesture) or holding the stem of a lotus.  Her right leg is sometimes hanging down supported by a lotus, this is also known as lalita asana.  She is often depicted in a standing or half dancing pose.  White Tara has seven eyes.  An eye of knowledge is found on Her forehead while the remaining ones are the usual eyes on the face and on one on each of the palms of her hands and soles of Her feet.” [2]

“She is described in manuals as having ‘the youth of 16 years’ but is often depicted as more full-bodied than Green Tara.  White Tara is referred to as “Mother of all the Buddhas.”  This is because she embodies the motivation that is compassion.  Her whiteness “Radiant as the eternal snows in all their glory” is indicative of the selflessness — the purity — of this compassion but especially the undifferentiated Truth of the Dharma.

 

Chintamani Chakra Tara (The Jewelled Wheel) is a protector form of White Tara with a violet or rainbow aureole.” [3]

 

“Green Tara” by Zeng Hao

Green Tara (Harit Tara) also known as Arya Tara in Nepal is considered the consort of Amoghasiddhi.  In sculpture She is portrayed in the same form as White Tara but She has a water lily (utpala).  She is a Buddhashakti and is regarded as a protector.  She is often depicted as slender and graceful.  Green Tara is often represented with a mischievous or playful smile on Her face. Green Tara’s powers are focused on protection. However, She is also a powerful guide during meditation.  Her most common identifying symbols are the utpala (blue lotus) and vara and vitarka mudras. The utpala opens at sunset, blooms and releases its fragrance with the appearance of the moon, with which it is associated. Tara’s right hand is outstretched in boundless giving-the vara mudra. Her left hand is in vitarka mudra. All fingers extend upward, except the ring finger which bends to touch the tip of the thumb. Vitarka is usually translated as “reflection” and is known as the the Three Jewels Mudra, or the mudra of Giving Refuge. Green Tara is often depicted with one leg out of the lotus position, extended down and ready to rise indicating Her quick response when needed.” [4]

“Green Tara is typically pictured as a dark, green-skinned girl of 16. In Tibetan culture, and some others, green is considered to include all the other colors. Buddhaguyha says that Tara’s green color is the result of the mixing of white, yellow and blue standing for pacifying, increasing and destroying respectively.  That means that Green Tara practice incorporates that of White Tara and of all the others, including that of golden Goddess of wealth, Vasundhara (Tib. Norgyun, Norgyuma). ” [5]

 

Nila Saraswati (The Blue Tara)

Blue or Ugra Tara (Ekajata Tara, Khadga Yogini or Vajrayogini*) is a dreadful manifestation of Tara and has a ferocious form and is associated with transmutation of anger.  She was overpowered by Padmasambhava.  She typically wears a five-skull crown.  These five skulls symbolize the first five perfections attainable on the Vajrayana path which are: generosity, discipline, patience, effort and meditative Concentration.  She has three eyes, symbolizing Her ability to see past, present and future simultaneously.  In Her left hand, She holds a skull cup filled with swirling brains and entails of the enemies of the Dharma and in Her right hand is the kartri, a curved flaying knife, the instrument used to annihilate these enemies.  She wears a garland of 50 human skulls.  She is adorned with six kinds of ornaments, as is usually the case with tantric divinities symbolizing their perfection in the six paramitas.  Vajrayogini helps those with strong passion to transform it into the realization of great bliss.  Vajrayogini, Vajravarahi or Bijeshvari Devi ranks first and most important among the dakini.  She is a Vajrayana Buddhist mediation deity and as such She is considered the female Buddha.  Vajrayogini is a key figure in the advanced Tibetan Buddhist practice of Chöd where She appears in her Kalika or Vajravarahi forms.” [6]

“According to the ‘Hindu’ Yogini Tantra: ‘Tara is the same as Kali, the embodiment of supreme love. So also is Kamakhya.  In thinking of them as different from Kali, one would go to hell.'” [7]

 

 

Vajrayogini

*Vajrayogini is not so terrifying and She is not blue but red, which is the proper color of Vajrayogini. Yet She has been called Ugratara-Vajrayoginiat least since 1775 when King Pratap Malla of Kathmandu put up that inscription after he built the present temple. Perhaps the most that can be said is the She is a peculiarly Nepalese form of the terrifying Blue Tara, possibly based on an iconographic source that has been lost.” [8]

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Golden Tara” by Marianna Rydvald

Bhrikuti Tara (Yellow Tara) is affiliated to the Dhyani Buddha, Amitabha.  She is typically either in a standing or sitting pose, one faced and three eyed.  In painting She is yellow in color.  She is associated with wealth and prosperity.  One of Her hands is usually in the boon granting gesture while the other holds a Buddhist rosary also known as malas, a vase and a triple staff.  She wears a crown on which a figure of Amitabha is carved.” [9]

“She is related to Hindu great Goddess Lakshmi, and Her Sanskrit name Vasundhara indicates She is the source of the eight ‘bountiful Vasus.’  Therefore, according to the epic Mahabharat, She is the bounty that is the waters of the river Ganges — the Goddess, Ganga whose origin is the snows of the Himalayas.

Ritro Loma Chen An emanation of Tara that is golden, with three faces and six arms.  Her power helps overcome plagues and epidemics, and illnesses new to the world.  Those who suffer from incurable conditions can still benefit from Her blessings.

Orange Tara As The Liberator, She is believed to be able to free prisoners and those confined in other ways.  This ‘freeing’ extends to Her efficacy in helping with childbirth.” [10]  She is also said to purifying all poverty. [11]

The Red Tara Kurukulla

Red Tara (Kurukulla) the passionate lotus dakini, originated from the country of Uddiyana.  She is said to have emanated from the Buddha Amitabha.  Among Amitabha’s three female emanations Kurukulla is the most important one.  Kurukulla is often called Red Tara (sgrol-ma dmar-po) or Tarodbhava Kurukulla, “the Kurukulla who arises from Tara.”  According to the texts, Kurukulla is a sixteen year old maiden because sixteen is an auspicious number which signifies perfection (four times four).  She is red in color because of Her magical function of enchantment and magnetism.

She has a single face because She embodies non-dual wisdom beyond conventional distinctions of good and evil.  She is naked because She is unconditioned by discursive thoughts.  She has four arms because of the four immeasurable states of mind, namely, love, compassion, joy, and equanimity.  She holds an arrow stretched on a bow entwined with flowers and leaves because she can give rise to thoughts of desire in the minds of others.  In Her other two hands She holds the hook that attracts and summons them into Her presence and the noose by which She binds them to Her will.  Both of these implements enable Her to catch those of us who have strayed from the path of the Dharma.

Kurukulla wears a crown of five skulls signifying the five perfections, whereas She herself embodies the sixth perfection, that of wisdom.  She wears a necklace of fifty freshly severed human heads dripping blood because She vanquishes the fifty negative emotions.  She is dancing because She is active and energetic, Her compassionate activity manifesting in both Samsara and Nirvana.  She dances, treading upon a male human corpse because She enchants and subjugates the demon of ego and desire also known as Kamadeva.  She stands within a flaming aura because Her nature is hot and enflamed with passion and upon a lotus blossom because She is a pure vision of enlightened awareness.  In the practitioner’s meditation, such is the recollection of the purity (dag dran) of the vision of the Goddess.  Usually She is one faced but can have 2, 4, 6 or 8 arms.  In the 6 armed form She has six Dhyani Buddhas engraved on Her crown; in the 2 armed form She is known as Sukla Kurkulla; in the 4 armed form she is known as Oddiyana Kurkulla and by several other names.  Her mantra is ‘Om Kukulle Hum Hrih Svaha’.” [12]

“The Drikung Kagyu Four-Armed Red Arya Tara is less common. Her activity is described as ‘overpowering’ in the sense of overcoming obstacles.” [13]

“Black Tara” by Paul Heussenstamm

Black Tara is a wrathful manifestation, identical in form and, no doubt, source, to Hindu Kali and is associated with power. Like Kali, She has a headdress of grinning skulls, like Kali, she is black, like Kali She has three eyes. Like many Tibetan deities in the wrathful aspect, She has the fangs of a tiger, symbolizing ferocity, a ferocious appetite to devour the demons of the mind. Her aura or halo is fiery, energetic, full of smoke symbolizing the transformation of fire.” [14]  “The Black Tara has been compared to the perfect guardian of the void, the Divine Mother of compassion and a firm Goddess to ward off any forms of evil.” [15]

 

“There are several ‘Black’ Taras invoked by Buddhists:

The Terrifier (Jigjema, Skt. Bhairava): brownish-black with tinges of red. She is “Victorious Over the Three Worlds.” She subdues evil spirits and cures any illness caused by them.

The Invincible (Shen.gyi.mi.tub.ma) “Crushes the Forces of Others” is black.  She causes your acts, intentions and aspirations to be invincible.

The Conqueror of Opponents (Shen.le Nam.par Gyel.ma) is red/black.  “Pulverizer of the Maras,” She nullifies the influences of any who oppose one’s spiritual aspirations.” [16]

 

“Some have a vision of you (Tara) as red as the sun with rays more brilliant and red than lac and vermilion.  Others see you blue like the sapphire.  Some again see you whiter than the milk churned out of the milky ocean.  Still others see you golden.  Your vishva-rupa is like a crystal which changes its color with the change of the things around it.” ~ Arya Tara Shragdhara stotra [Nitin Kumar’s newsletter, Nov. 2000)

 

 

 

ASSOCIATIONS:

General: Star, third eye (in the middle of the forehead), seven eyes (including eyes in the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet), full moon, lakes, rainbows, the numbers 3, 7, and 11.

Animals: Owl, raven, sow and mare.

Plants: Lotus blossom, either open or closed and any orange flowers.

Perfumes/Scents: Incense, rose and musk, jonquils

Gems and Metals: Diamonds, rose quartz, pink tourmaline, emerald, (any pink or green stones)

Colors: All colors, but especially white and green. [17]

 

 

 

* On a personal note, Green Tara holds a very special place in my heart.  She helped me through some very tough times a few years ago.  These two songs are my absolute favorite renditions of the Green Tara Mantra and fill me with peace, love and joy every time I listen to them.  Namaste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Amelia. Friendburst.com, “Tara: Goddess of Peace and Protection“.

Dharma Sculture, “Tara, the Mother of All Buddhas“.

Goddessgift.com, “Goddess Symbols: Tara“.

Khandro Net, “Tara

Locke, John Ph.D. Digital Library & Museum of Buddhist Studies, “Vajrayogini Temple of Samkhu

Threads of Spiderwoman, “Black Tara“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Devika. Order of the White Moon, “Tara, Goddess of Compassion“.

Exotic India Art,Tara and the Cult of the Female in Buddhism“.

Kagyu Samye Dzong Finland, “Green Tara: The Praise of 21 Taras

Religion Facts,Tara: Buddhist Goddess in Green and White“.

Sabrina. Goddess A Day, “Tara

Stolan, Mihai. Liveonlineyoga.com, “Yoga of the Ten Great Cosmic Powers“.

Vortex Distribution, “21Taras.HTM

Wikipedia, “Tara (Buddhism)“.



Goddess Jun Ti

18 Arms of Cundi Bodhisattva

“Jun Ti’s themes are long life, fertility, wisdom and tradition.  Her symbols are dragons, sun and moon, the numbers 3 and 18.

This Chinese Buddhist Goddess oversees all matters of life generously. In works of art she is depicted as living on Polaris, the star around which all things revolve, including each individual’s fate. She has three eyes for wise discernment, eighteen arms holding weapons with to protect Her people, and a dragon’s head that symbolizes Her power and wisdom.

Jun Ti can help you live a more fulfilled life this year be overseeing your fortune and well-being. To encourage Her assistance, think silver and gold (or white and yellow) – the colors of the moon and the sun. Wear items is these hues, or perhaps have a glass of milk followed by pineapple juice in the morning to drink fully of her attributes!

On or around this day, the Chinese take to the streets with new year festivities that last two weeks. Eating various rice-based dishes today encourages fertility, respect and long life, while wearing new shoes brings Jun Ti’s luck. It is also customary to be on one’s best behavior and honor the ancestors throughout the day for good fortune. The climax of festivities is a dragon parade, the beast, Jun Ti’s sacred animal, being associated with ancient knowledge and tradition. So, find a way to commemorate your personal of family customs today to draw Jun Ti’s attention and blessing.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

While researching Jun Ti this evening, as with many of the East Asian Goddesses I research, I ran across several variations of Her name to include Jun DiZhunti/Zhuenti, Chun Ti, Chandi, Cundi, Cundi Guan Yin and Juntei Kannon.  I also found some associations with the Taoist Goddess Dou Mu Yuan JunKwan YinAvalokiteśvara and Marici.

Cundi is immensely popular in East Asian Buddhism. While Cundi is less well known in the Tibetan Vajrayāna Buddhist community, she is revered in the Chinese and Japanese Buddhist Esoteric sects. In China, she is known as Zhǔntí Púsà (準提菩薩, “Cundi Bodhisattva”) or Zhǔntí Fómǔ (準提佛母, “Cundi Buddha-Mother”), while in Japan she is known as Juntei Kannon (准胝観音, “Cundi Avalokitasvara”). She is recognized as one of the many forms Guan Yin – the Bodhisattva of Compassion. A Bodhisattva is anyone who vows to cultivate Wisdom and Compassion to save sentient beings from suffering.

The word ‘Cundi’ literally means ‘extremely pure’. Due to Her status as the Mother of all the Lotus Deities in Tantrism, so She has the epithet of Mother Buddha, Cundi Mother Buddha is also called the Seven Koti Mother Buddha, which means that She is the Mother of Seven Billion Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

The cult of Cundi probably originated from Mahayana Buddhism’s absorption of some elements of Indian religion in which the Mahayanists accepted the Goddess Chandi as a bodhisattva (just as many Chinese deities were eventually absorbed into the pantheon of Chinese Buddhism and declared by Chinese Buddhists to be “Dharma protectors”). Perhaps the original intended audience of the Maha Cundi Dharani Sutra were devotees of Chandi who believed in the efficacy of magic spells and as an upaya, a text that would appeal to them and encoded with Buddhist teachings was composed. The Dharma is infinitely accommodating and can be expressed in different ways to people of different levels and perceptions.

Cundi can be seen as a personification of the Enlightened Mind of Compassionate Wisdom. Her devotees revere her as “The Mother of Seven Million Buddhas”. This is perhaps a poetic way of saying that the Reality which Cundi represents is the Source of All Enlightenment. Each one of Cundi’s eighteen arms represent a particular quality of enlightenment such as the unflagging zeal to save sentient beings and perfect knowledge of the past, present and future. Each one of her hands are either forming a mudra or holding an instrument symbolizing an activity characteristic of an enlightened being. For example in one of her arms, Cundi holds an axe which signifies the elimination of evil. Another of Cundi’s arms form the Abhaya Mudrā which signifies the bestowing fearlessness to Her devotees.

Jun Ti

A production of Lucky Thanka

The Symbolism and Meaning of the Eighteen Arms of Cundi
Cundi is depicted seated with eighteen arms, all wielding implements that symbolize skillful means of the Dharma or Tantra.  The symbolism of each arm is as follows:
1. The original 2 hands forming the root Mudra of Expounding the Dharma represents the fluency of elucidating all Dharma.
2. The hand holding the wondrous precious banner represents the ability to build a most magnificent, great monastery.
3. The hand forming the Fearless Mudra represents the ability to deliver sentient beings away from all terror and fears.
4. The hand holding a lotus flower represents the purification of the six senses which, untainted, are as pure as the lotus flower.
5. The hand holding a sword of wisdom represents the severing of the entanglements of afflictions and the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance.
6. The hand holding an empowerment vase represents the flowing of nectar to nurture all sentient beings so that they may receive the empowerment of the buddhas.
7. The hand holding a wonderful jewelled headdress represents the wish to be linked to wonderful dharma art.
8. The hand holding a vajra lasso represents the ability to attract all into the yoga tantra.
9. The hand holding a wonderful celestial fruit represents the accomplishment of the fruition of enlightenment, and the extensive cultivation of good karma.
10. The hand holding an eight-spoke wheel represents the constant turning of the great dharma wheel, radiating its magnificent lights over the three lower realms.
11. The hand holding a battle axe represents the elimination of all evil practices and the severing of attachment to oneself and others.
12. The hand holding a large dharma shell represents the expounding of pure Dharma which shakes the universe.
13. The hand holding a vajra hook represents the skill to magnetize and attract all phenomena within one’s view.
14. The hand holding a wish-fulfilling vase represents the function of manifesting all treasures and scriptures at will.
15. The hand holding a vajra represents the collective convergence of support given by the eight classes of celestial beings and dragons. It also represents the subjugation of stubborn sentient beings.
16. The hand holding a wisdom sutra represents the self-cognition of knowing the profound and wonderful truth without any guidance from a teacher.
17. The hand holding a mani or wish-fulfilling pearl represents the vibrant and luminous state of mind which is flawless, pure and perfect.
18. The two original hands, beginning with the first hand, are held in the Dharma Expounding Mudra. Hence, the eighteen arms.

Some images of Cundi Bodhisattva depict different gestures, such as forming the root mudra or holding mala beads. The meaning remains the same, regardless. Her eighteen arms also represent the eighteen merits of attaining Buddhahood, as described in an appendix to the Cundī Dhāraṇī Sūtra or that of Cundi Bodhisattva.

 Details of Cundi’s iconography can be found here.

Additional Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cundi_(Buddhism)
http://cundimantra.weebly.com/
http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/chinese-mythology.php?deity=JUN-DI
http://www.meditationexpert.com/meditation-techniques/m_buddhist_zhunti_meditation_opens_your_heart_chakra_for_enlightenment.htm
http://www.taoistsecret.com/taoistgod.html#17
http://www.thangka-art.blogspot.com/view/classic
http://theyoungpolytheistic.blogspot.com/2011/07/gods-and-goddesses-jun-di.html

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